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GDC 2010 – Days Four/Five

NOTE: Sorry for the obsessive amount of links in here… just want to make sure you can easily dig into anything that you might not know about (most go to Wikipedia).

GDC is still settling itself into my mind.  But I best get what’s left of it before it goes fully into hibernation and I can’t remember the details anymore, only to be left with a warm feeling about the conference on a whole.

Day Four

So, day four was pretty hectic.  Lots of talking with folks at the booths set up.  I talked a few companies about their procedural techniques and tools that I had run across while trying to make my terrain generator.  It was a lot of fun actually meeting people behind these products and learning what it is they do to get these tools to where they need to be commercially viable.

I also attended a couple more sessions on day four.  The first talk was “Streaming Massive Environments from 0 to 200 MPH” by Chris Tector (Software Architect for Turn 10).  Lots and lots of useful information about what exactly you have to do to get streaming to do what you need, and to make sure you’re not wasting what little memory consoles afford you.

The second talk was all about the future of connected games, folks from Facebook game companies as well as some pretty well known AAA companies.  The basic idea behind the session was the fact that games are becoming less of a piece of entertainment and more of a service or part of an entertainment platform.  Rob Pardo (Blizzard) said that they didn’t make action figures because they thought it’d be profitable, they made them because the staff wanted the figures for their desks.  The general mindset here was, if you’re a fan of your IP, then make stuff you’d want for it and you won’t have to worry about your fans not liking it.

Both sessions were really informative and I still need to write down all the notes I took from them so I can reference back to them later.   Day four ended with a bit of party hoping and generally talking with a lot of great folks.  As a result though, day five was probably the hardest to get up for.

Day Five

For the final day of GDC, I didn’t have that much left to see on the show floor.  I’d already played quite a number of the IGF games, talked with all the career folks I thought I’d be a good fit for, and seen all the neat tech on display, so I packed it with three more sessions.  First up was “Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in Games”  with Rhianna Pratchett, Sean Vanaman (Telltale Games), and Tim Schafer (Double Fine) on a panel moderated by John Teti (The A.V. Club/The Onion).  It was an enjoyable session and a pretty good insight into what it takes to follow through on getting comedy into a game.  It’s not easy, and we’re a long ways out from having comedy as a genre, but it’s something I believe all three of these folks would like to see one day.

Second I attended “Rendering with Conviction” by Stephen Hill (Ubisoft).  The cool thing about this session is it was about a rendering pipeline for a game that had been in production for 5 years, and thusly started production (and it’s pipeline) before quite a number of our modern day techniques were developed.  So rather than using SSAO, Splinter Cell: Conviction uses it’s own (and in my opinion better) ambient occlusion model as well as visibility systems.  Talks like this show you that there’s always another way to skin that cat, you just have to try some new things to get it there.

And my final session for GDC’10 was “Uncharted 2: HDR” by John Hable (Naughty Dog).  This is probably by far the most practical of the talks I attended in reference to my current project.  While we won’t be using bloom (which is the first thing I always thought of when I thought of HDR) or AO, the gamma correction and filmic tone mapping should make our colors more rich and really brighten up our world (something we need desperately).

So, once GDC was over, we grabbed dinner and went of to the airport.  It was a wonderful time, we all had a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.  Hope to see you there.

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